Review of Amagi Brilliant Park


Today I am reviewing an anime set in an amusement park, which is rather sweet. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve theme parks. The best vacation I ever had for example was a family trip to Florida. Mornings would begin with a game of TMNT: Turtles in Time, at the hotel arcade, followed by an afternoon in places such as SeaWorld and Universal Studios. I also have good memories of playing the business management sim Theme Park on Sega Genesis. Said title taught me that companies boost their drink sales by coating their fries with thirst inducing salt. How sneaky!


Most teenagers would be ecstatic if the big-breasted transfer student, in their class, invited them on a date to the local amusement park. That’s exactly what happened to Seiya Kanie when well-endowed Isuzu Sento approached him one fateful day. The date however was actually a tour of the park’s facilities. Sento, who is employed by the titular Amagi Brilliant Park, has coerced Kanie to visit the establishment with the aims of appointing him the new park manager. It’s an offer he can’t refuse… mainly because declining would result in Sento blasting him with an enchanted musket, which despite being non-lethal is very painful.

Kanie assumes control of Amagi because the park’s owner, a sickly princess named Latifah Fleuranza, is far too ill to meet the demands of her position. All that Latifah can do, to help Kanie revitalize the struggling park, is lend morale support, feed him with tasty croquettes and plant a smooch on his lips that bestows Kanie with mind reading powers. Princess? Magic powers? Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that most of the staff at Amagi hail from the fantasy kingdom of Maple Land. They work in our world because human happiness is the sustenance that keeps them alive.


Over the course of thirteen episodes (and one OVA) Kanie is tasked with rescuing Amagi from closure by attracting half a million customers to the park by the end of July. Aiding him is royal guard Sento, his overly serious secretary, who develops feelings for her new teenage boss, over the course of the series. The potential romance doesn’t go beyond awkward blushing though, because when it comes to flirting anime characters have less game than me. A countdown that appears at the end of each episode indicates how close Kanie is to reaching his goal.

Amagi Brilliant Park has a huge cast of quirky supporting characters. The lineup includes numerous mascots who appear to be guys in costumes, but in actuality are humanoid animals. Moffle a feisty chap, who resembles Bonta from Full Metal Panic, is the park’s most popular entertainer. Other stars of note include a ram named Macaron and a flirtatious doggie called Tiramy. Amagi’s workforce also includes a quartet of dancing elemental fairies, whose ranks contain a yaoi connoisseur and a redhead who is constantly using her phone. Reminds me of one of my pals. He’ll invite me over for drinks, only to then spend the evening texting and ignoring me in favour of catching critters on Pokémon Go. How rude!


My rating for Amagi Brilliant Park is a three out of five. The series showed potential early on, but in the end was nothing more than a chain of whacky one-off storylines. Amagi’s fate only takes centre stage in the final few episodes, where Kanie is forced to depend on the success of one big event to meet the 500k-visitor target. There isn’t much in the way of character development, aside from Kanie’s growth. In the first episode Kanie is portrayed as a narcissist. Responsibility however moulds him into a capable leader who values the worth of camaraderie. Although the series is a by the numbers light novel adaptation it looks very pretty thanks to KyoAni’s high production values.

The series may not have met all of my expectations, but it was still fun to watch thanks to the jokes. I liked the comedy and the eye candy wasn’t bad either. The prancing fairies look nice, as did the scenes of Sento in the tub. I don’t think that the plot holds up though. Attracting half a million patrons can’t be all that tough if you employ the Bender (Futurama) strategy. All you have to do is build a theme park with Blackjack and hookers. In fact forget about the park and Blackjack. The hookers will suffice, especially when episode one reveals that Amagi is situated next to a love hotel!

Review of Gantz: O


Whenever I hear that an anime is going down the CGI route I cannot help but shudder. Although there are computer-generated movies out there that look gorgeous, my pessimistic mind always fears the worst. We may have another Berserk on our hands or even worse Appleseed XIII, which looked like a PS2 game. Thankfully in the case of Gantz: O the artists at Digital Frontier have done a sublime job with the movie’s visuals. I’d argue that the feature’s photorealistic graphics rival the art of Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy films. Yes, there are a few scenes were the character models venture into the uncanny valley and resemble sex mannequins, but I don’t mind. Who wouldn’t buy a sex doll if their pricing weren’t so prohibitive? I would, but for now I’ll have to make do with my inflatable sheep.


It’s been thirteen years since we last saw an adaptation of Hiroya Oku’s manga on our screens (gripes, I suddenly feel ancient.) This ninety-minute flick, which premiered in Japan back in October, loosely chronicles the comic’s Osaka arc. For those of you not acquainted with the franchise, Gantz is a black sphere that rents a modest Tokyo flat. Using advanced technology it reanimates deceased humans and forces them to battle against hostile extra terrestrials. The people resurrected by Gantz are armed with ray guns and garments that bestow the wearer with superhuman might. Said skin-tight outfits resemble the gimp suits I wish I could afford. Alas, latex is pricey so I have to make do with whipping blow up farmyard animals during my lonely evenings.

The plot of Gantz: O is pretty straightforward. After getting stabbed at a train station high schooler Masaru Kato is revived by Gantz and teleported to the city of Osaka. There he is ordered to slay a legion of monsters that are running amok, within a strict two-hour deadline. Aiding our hero is an old fogey, a busty celebrity and a cocky teenager. The group struggle to survive at first, but their plight improves when they cross paths with a local Gantz team who are equipped with armaments of mass destruction. For a while it seems like Kato can focus on protecting innocent bystanders and leave the heavy lifting to the other group. That all changes however when the end of level guardian shows up. It murders most of Kato’s allies before setting its sights on him. Defeating the bugger won’t be easy because the creature has more forms than Persona 3’s final boss.


My rating for Gantz: O is three stars. Action packed from start to finish – the movie is good fun, providing that you can turn off your brain and permit yourself to be swept away by the spectacle of explosive CG battles. The plot however is wafer thin and suffers from a predictable ending, which is telegraphed by an earlier scene that details how Gantz rewards participants who amass 100 points worth of kills. I was also disappointed by how Gantz: O lacks many of the elements found in the 2004 anime. The tension of forcing people with different viewpoints to tackle a life or death situation was absent from this adaptation, as Kato’s party are a cooperative bunch. I also feel that the movie is less intense than the series. The carnage isn’t as gory and there was virtually no sexual content to be found. Horny fellows such as myself won’t be amused. Thank goodness that my faithful ewe is on hand to satisfy my urges.

Review of A Silent Voice


Bullies are universally reviled and rightly so because they are cowards who ruin lives through the use of physical abuse and intimidation. Given that most people hate bullies, more than David Leavitt, it’s surprising to see that A Silent Voice tells the story of someone who picked on a disabled girl. Back in elementary school Shoya Ishida played cruel pranks on deaf transfer student Shoko Nishimiya and even went as far as destroying several of her expensive hearing aids. The tormenting got so bad that Shoko eventually moved away to another school. Shoya soon learnt that payback is a bitch, because in retaliation for the cruelty he committed his classmates severed all ties with him.


Years after the events described above Shoya contemplates suicide. He has nothing to live for, as his notoriety has left him friendless in high school. Even worse he had to sell off his entire manga collection to pay off the bill for the hearing aids he damaged. Life without comics just isn’t worth living! At the eleventh hour Shoya however decides against leaping off a tall bridge. Rather than give up on existence the repentant teenager decides instead to learn sign language, so he can track down Shoko and communicate to her how much he laments his past misdeeds.

As someone who has been the victim of bullying I didn’t expect to have any sympathy for Shoya, but somehow A Silent Voice made me feel empathy for its protagonist. A lifetime of isolation is a harsh punishment for crimes he committed as a child. We all have done stupid things in our youth after all. Unlike some bullies, who stubbornly remain jerks, Shoya feels genuine guilt for his past behaviour and puts the effort into making amends. Learning sign language, just so he can apologize to Shoko, is admirable. It’s not something I could do. As my poor grammar suggests, I haven’t even mastered English yet! I cannot imagine how much dedication it takes to train in a second form of communication

Forgiving Shoya is easy for the audience because the victim in all this harbours no ill will towards him. Shoko is a sweetheart who would rather become friends with Shoya (and maybe something more) rather than hate him. Even during the midst of his bullying Shoko tried to protect her harasser from other students, who had decided he should suffer a taste of his own medicine. In a way Shoya is just as much of a victim as Shoko is. He was made the fall guy for Shoko’s departure, despite not being the sole person to treat her poorly. Some of the girls in elementary school for example resented how having a handicap classmate was hindering their chances of winning a choir contest. Musical tournaments are serious business, as Sound Euphonium will attest to!


My rating for A Silent Voice is four stars. I feel that the movie deserves that score purely from a technical standpoint. The animation and artwork is gorgeous, as one would expect from a Kyo Ani production, and I liked the stylistic choice of masking the facial features of people who shunned Shoya behind an X. The story and characterisations are all strong too, which is no surprise as the movie is based on Yoshitoki Oima’s award winning manga. I can’t say however that I liked the movie to the level of other reviewers. Were I to grade the film on how much I enjoyed it I would consider awarding it a three out of five.

I watch anime for the amusing hijinks of draconic maids, the hypnotic jiggle of bouncing cat girls and the action packed battles between a geek and parasitic organisms. A Silent Voice doesn’t tick any of those boxes, although I will concede it is a beautiful work of art. The narrative’s pacing is glacial and downright depressing at times. I thought things would liven up once Shoya overcame Shoko’s overprotective relatives, enabling him to patch things up with her. Instead what we get is two hours of people feeling miserable. Shoya feels like he isn’t worthy of a pardon and Shoko feels equally bad because Shoya would have been spared from much hardship had the two never met.

Perhaps reading the manga would have been more to my liking? Pausing in between volumes, to recuperate from the gloom, would have been more palatable than 129 straight minutes of misery. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day deals with similar themes of childhood acquaintances coming to terms with a past tragedy, but resonated more with me as it balanced out the melodrama with humour. A Silent Voice is a movie that I would recommend, although I do so with the caveat that you have to be in the right mood for it. The feature may be too much of a slog for viewers who enjoy lighthearted skits about band mates drinking tea. Those who prefer their Kyo Ani with a bit more substance will however find much to admire in this Naoko Yamada directed flick.

Review of Amagami SS


Junichi Tachibana is not fond of the festive season. Does he loathe the December period because buying presents wrecks havoc with his bank balance? Nope. Perhaps he hates listening to those cheesy Xmas tunes the radio stations play ad nauseam every single year? Nah. His disdain for the holidays stems from painful memories of that one time a girl no showed for their agreed upon Christmas Eve date. Thankfully for the heartbroken teenager Junichi has been a good boy this year, so Santa is going to reward him with the gift of six potential girlfriends!


Amagami SS is a twenty-four-episode anime based on a Japan exclusive PS2 dating sim. The series is broken up into four part story arcs, which each chronicle what would happen if Junichi hooked up with one of his academy’s eligible bachelorettes. MVM’s six disc DVD collection begins with Junichi courting Haruka Morishima, who happens to be the most popular girl in their high school. She’s well liked by the student body for some unknown reason. After rejecting all suitors to date and dropping out of every club she has ever joined you’d think the capricious minx would have annoyed enough people to lose her popularity title by now.

The second tale of romance stars classmate and part time waitress Kaoru Tanamachi. Junichi and Kaoru have been nothing more than platonic pals for many years, but that all changes when a trip to the library ends in a spot of belly button smooching. Once he’s done with extracting the navel fluff from his mouth, Junichi moves onto bashful freshman Sae Nakata. After rescuing the timid girl from a vicious puppy, Junichi agrees to help Sae overcome the social anxiety that is preventing her from landing a job. The trick to beating embarrassment is to picture everyone in their underwear… or in the case of this anime, pretend that everyone is a vending machine.


Next up is swimmer Ai Nanasaki. The pair met one fateful day, at the park, when Junichi got a glimpse of Ai’s panties. Sexual harassment led to love and the rest is history. Right, let’s move on. You can’t have a rom-com without a childhood friend so enter Rihoko Sakurai, the obese chum who weighs a staggering 60kg. Yep, what one would deem borderline anorexic in the States is classed as fat in Japan. Different cultures. Different standards. Anyways, the Rihoko arc deals with the clumsy lass battling against her inability to both diet and confess her true feelings to Junichi. Can she slim down and get her man or will Junichi say “no fat chicks?”

Last but not least is Tsukasa Ayatsuji, who at first glance appears to be a polite and responsible class representative. When Junichi volunteers to help Tsukasa with organizing the end of term Christmas Festival he however learns that Ayatsuji’s courteous exterior is nothing more than a facade. Away from prying eyes Tsukasa reveals herself to be an ill-tempered schemer. Most guys would abscond at this point, because you shouldn’t put your dick in crazy, but Junichi ends up falling for her. The question is whether he is attracted to the sweet Tsukasa everyone knows or her evil alter ego.


My rating for Amagami SS is a four out of five. Romantic comedies are not usually my thing, but I must admit to liking this one. It’s got the right mix of humour and romance to appeal to audiences of both genders. Lonely girls, who wish to vicariously experience love through the eyes of animated women, will find plenty of mushy stuff to enjoy by watching these DVDs (with their cats.) Macho guys, on the other hand, can justify purchasing such an unmanly series by pointing out that the gags are rather funny. In terms of jokes my favourite part of Amagami SS came during the Sae arc, which is narrated by a sarcastic fourth-wall breaking commentator.

In terms of structure Amagami SS is reminiscent to Photo Kano. Rather than have Junichi pick one true love from all the available candidates, every girl gets her own story and happy ending. I like this format for storytelling and it was better executed in Amagami thanks to its higher episode count. Every girl gets four episodes, rather than just one, resulting in deeper storylines and better character development. Apart from the main series MVM’s collection also includes two OVAs. One of these features a stalker and the other revolves around Junichi’s little sister. In case you are wondering, no there isn’t any incest. Prudes and perverts will be relieved and disappointed respectively.

Review of Gatchaman Crowds Insight


Brexit, Trump’s presidency and the recent elections in France. Right now it is impossible to turn on the TV without getting swamped by politics, and not even Japanese animation can provide respite from the horrors of government. Take the second season of Gatchaman Crowds for example. Subtitled “Insight” this thirteen-episode follow-up to Tatsunoko Production’s 2013 hit deals with the Japanese electorate picking a red-faced alien to be their leader. Wow, talk about a bizarre plot. Gatchaman sure has changed a lot from the days were science ninjas beat up transgendered mutants in the seventies. Um… okay never mind. This franchise has always been weird.


Gatchaman Crowds Insight commences in the aftermath of the last series, which saw Japan’s populace adopt the use of Crowds. By tapping on an app people can now summon digital avatars to do their bidding. Crowds are employed to lend humanitarian aid during disasters and to help out with less important tasks such as scrubbing away graffiti. Not everyone is so benevolent though. A terrorist group called VAPE is using Crowds to commit acts of vandalism that would make an ANTIFA mob blush. Rizumu Suzuki, who leads VAPE, believes that the civil disobedience he orchestrates is making a point. It’s dangerous to give the masses control of advanced technology, because only twenty percent of the country is smart enough to use it responsibly.

The heroic Gatchaman eventually defeat VAPE, but the collateral damage caused by their battle is enough to convince Japan’s citizens that Crowds are a menace. A snap election is promptly held resulting in the abolition of Crowds and the crowning of a new prime minister. Gelsadra, an extra-terrestrial who recently landed on Earth, ends up securing the post of PM thanks to his charm and mind reading powers. By absorbing a person’s thought bubbles Gelsadra can instantly determine what the majority desire. More doctors, lower taxes and the sacking of corrupt senators are all approved in answer to Gelsadra’s daily referendums. Less tax? Sounds like my type of candidate… even if his bright skin and suspect hair remind me a little of Trump.

Despite his high approval rating Gelsadra laments how he is unable to make everyone happy. No matter how popular his policies are there is always a minority that vote against the proposed new laws. Human beings are individuals who each have their own set of values. With that in mind how can someone get an entire nation to agree on an idea? One solution is to eliminate the few dissenters who disagree with mainstream public opinion. Enter the Kuu – a race of entities who appear to be affiliated with Gelsadra. These carnivorous beasties patrol the streets on the lookout for contrarians. If you voice a viewpoint that goes against the grain watch out or else they will gobble you up. Gulp! I better think twice next time I argue that Makoto isn’t the best waifu in Persona 5.


My rating for Gatchaman Crowds Insight is a four out of five. Whether you end up enjoying the show or not should be pretty obvious. Anyone who liked the first season will lap up Insight, as it is more of the same. If you loathed Crowds, because it is radically different to seventies Gatchaman, you should probably give this series a miss. Based on my score you can ascertain that I am in the former camp. The story is clever and the aesthetics appeal to me. Insight’s visuals are vibrant, the use of cardboard cut outs in the opening is stylish and I dig the CG designs of the characters when they transform. The computer generated robotic armour looks way more badass than the campy bird suits worn by Ken Washio’s team back in the day.

One gripe I have with Insight is that heroine Hajime Ichinose continues to be a Mary Sue that can do no wrong. Her cheerful personality can be annoying at times, but on the plus side she has great knockers (which the camera zooms in on whenever she bickers with the evil alien trapped inside her body.) Thankfully Hajime doesn’t detract from the storyline’s message, which warns that mindlessly going with the flow is unwise. People should think for themselves and resist the influence of social media. One thing Insight taught me is that online voting is a terrible idea for general elections. Then again that much should be obvious based on Internet polls of the past. Anyone else remember when “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” won the ballot to decide Mountain Dew’s new flavour?

Review of Busou Shinki


Konami has received a lot of flack lately due to their poor treatment of Hideo Kojima and the company’s decision to focus more on non-gaming projects. The criticism is unfair when you consider that businesses are out to make money. Metal Gear Solid V cost an astonishing $80 million to make and if perfectionist Kojima had gotten his way he would have spent even more cash on extra content, so he had to go. Video game development is pricey and a huge financial risk if your triple A title flops. With that in mind Konami have sensibly decided to pursue other ventures. Gamblers who like playing with balls can try Konami’s pachinko machines. Meanwhile geeks who lust over plastic waifus can play with their balls whilst ogling Konami’s Busou Shinki line of female action figures. Said toys were popular enough to spawn an anime spin-off, which I am reviewing today.


In the Busou Shinki animated universe humanity has cracked the secret of artificial intelligence. Age of Ultron has taught us that bestowing machines with sentience can be perilous, so just to be safe the Japanese decided to make their androids a paltry six inches tall. That’s tiny enough to render them harmless. High school student Rihito, who has recently migrated back to Japan, happens to be the proud owner of four Busou Shinki bots. He’s not a morning person and is inept at housework so it falls upon his diminutive ladies to clean the apartment and wake Rihito up during school days. Once their master has set off to school the pint-sized quartet go on various adventures. The series is basically Toy Story with form fitting plug-suits. Over the course of thirteen episodes the Shinkis battle thieves, compete in a grand prix and even prevent airline terrorism.

Rihito’s four Shinki are named Ann, Ines, Lene and Hina. Ann is the sensible one and arguably Rihito’s favourite (due to the fact that he has owned her for the longest time.) Just like parents with their kids, the first one always gets the most affection. I can attest to that because I am an eldest child. On the off chance that she is reading this… in your face sis! Moving on, Ines is the tomboy who loves drinking oil. Her fondness for robotic beverages may be a crutch for coping with the realization that she has a small bust. Lene is the clumsy blonde who has a passion for tailoring. The latest addition to Rihito’s collection is a no nonsense swordfighter named Hina. Due to Rihito’s disinterest in the Shinki battle circuit Hina frustratingly has no outlet to show off her fighting skills. I suspect she would be a happier gal if someone from Angelic Layer owned her instead.


My rating for Busou Shinki: Armoured War Goddess is a three out of five. I liked the series for the most part, but wouldn’t recommend buying it on DVD at the current RRP of twenty-four quid. The series is ultimately one of those disposable shows that you watch just once, negating the need for a physical copy. It’s a pity that you can’t legally stream the anime because the standalone episodes are ideal for when you have thirty-minutes to kill and are in the mood for a good chuckle. The comedy is decent and doesn’t resort to the harem trope of having the female heavy cast feuding over the show’s lone guy. Rihito’s relationship with the Shinki is platonic, as one would expect given that it’s physically impossible to romance anime merchandise… even if some zealous body pillow collectors would have you believing otherwise.

Compared to other shows Busou Shinki’s fan service is rather tame and more the side effect of replicating the toy designs rather than a conscious effort by the studio to titillate. Although the storylines skew more towards humour than action there are occasional scenes were the heroines battle against rival Shinki. The duels in question have each character donning power armour and taking to the skies in CG sequences. If that sounds familiar it should because the aerial dogfights resemble Infinite Stratos, which the folks at 8-Bit are also responsible for animating. For a series created to shamelessly peddle figurines Busou Shinki is more entertaining than it deserves to be. Is it enough to make people forgive Konami for their past transgressions? Nah. They’ll have to revive Silent Hills and Castlevania if they ever hope to restore their tattered reputation.

Review of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid


We’ve all had nights were one too many drinks get consumed and before you know it you attract an obese whale who follows you back home for some um “coffee.” In the case of Miss Kobayashi however an evening of overindulgence resulted in the bespectacled programmer cohabitating with a dragon, rather than a marine mammal. After a strenuous day at the office Kobayashi unwinds with a few brews leaving her completely plastered. Due to her drunken stupor she misses her stop and ends up taking the train all the way up to the nearby mountains. There she finds an injured dragon named Tohru who she saves from death by extracting the holy blade protruding from her scaly torso. Smitten by her saviour, Tohru decides to permanently migrate over to the human realm and become Kobayashi’s servant.


Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a thirteen-episode anime based on the manga created by Coolkyoushinja (whose previous works include the amusingly titled I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying.) This charming slice of life comedy follows the reserved Miss Kobayashi as she settles into the routine of living with a reptilian maid. As one may expect Tohru’s housekeeping is unconventional to say the least. She cleans Kobayashi’s unmentionables by shoving them down her gullet, dusts the apartment by using sorcery rather than a broom and when mealtime rolls along she serves dishes of roasted dragon tail (I’m guessing it tastes like chicken.) Kobayashi’s once quiet life is turned upside down by Tohru’s antics and things only get livelier when other magical lizards relocate from their fantasy world to Japan as well.

The first visitor is a petite dragon named Kanna Kamui, who Kobayashi later adopts. Kanna resembles a cute kindergartener and is for all intends and purposes this show’s Renge Miyauchi (Non Non Biyori.) After a while Tohru’s pals Fafnir and Lucoa show up to pay their friend a visit. Fafnir initially dislikes humans, but that gradually changes when he boards with Kobayashi’s geeky co-worker Makoto Takiya. Under his roof the wicked dragon is seduced by the allure of MMOs and manga. Lucoa also ends up finding a human roommate in the form of underage mage Shōta Magatsuchi. The bashful wizard mistakes Lucoa for a succubus, as she appeared before him during a demon summoning ritual. Lucoa’s skimpy attire and tendency to motorboat the youngster, with her ginormous breasts, does little to quash Shōta’s assumptions.


I am awarding Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid a score of four and a half stars. Usually when I watch anime I limit myself to a couple of episodes per sitting, but with this series I couldn’t resist marathoning the first ten. Early on I was hooked, as each instalment would introduce an interesting new character to the mix. Once the full cast was established the series retained my undivided attention thanks to the consistently funny humour and heart-warming moments that revolve around the Kobayashi/Tohru/Kanna family unit. The last two episodes don’t quite match the quality of the previous eleven, but they aren’t terrible by any means. For me the twelfth episode was a bit slow, as it dealt with Tohru’s backstory. Episode thirteen on the other hand suffered from fewer gags due to the necessity of concluding the season with some domestic drama.

One creative choice that elevates Dragon Maid over other anime would have to be the gender of Miss Kobayashi. Had the series been titled Mr Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid we may well have gotten a less appealing harem show were the sexy dragons bicker for the protagonist’s affections. That’s not to say that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is devoid of fan service though. Miss Kobayashi may be sensibly dressed and realistically proportioned, but the same cannot be said of the other girls. Tohru’s rival Elma for example is stacked (no guessing where the fat from her calorie rich snacks ends up.) Lucoa as previously mentioned is blessed with massive mammaries and Tohru herself is no slouch in the chest department. I had to chuckle when Kobayashi asked what Tohru’s bra size is. “D” she replies, “It stands for Dragon.”